Ryan Pace’s second draft class had three players make the 2016 Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team. Running back Jordan Howard, center Cody Whitehair and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd were honored Tuesday as some of the top rookies at their position in the NFL.
Howard, who joined PFWA Rookie of the Year Ezekiel Elliott as the other running back on the All-Rookie Team, ran for a Bears rookie record 1,313 yards, averaging 5.2 yards a carry. Howard was the team’s third-string back heading into the season but took over as a starter in Week 4 after Jeremy Langford’s ankle injury and never looked back.
Part of the reason for Howard’s success was Whitehair, the lone center on the All-Rookie team. The second-round pick moved to center full time before the first game of the season after the Bears signed Josh Sitton. Despite not playing center in college or much of the preseason, Whitehair flourished, starting all 16 games at the pivot.
Floyd, the Bears’ top pick and one of three linebackers named to the All-Rookie Team, was third in the league among rookies with seven sacks. He played in 12 games and had a safety and a strip-sack-recovery that resulted in a touchdown.
Pace has had five draft picks receive All-Rookie honors. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and safety Adrian Amos made the team after the 2015 season.
The Bears tied the Chargers for having the most All-Rookie players.